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This Ant-Man: Quantumania Time Loop Theory Could Break The MCU

The Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off Phase 4 this year with "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," the third film in the "Ant-Man" trilogy. The movie had some heavy groundwork to lay in establishing Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors) as the newest big bad in the franchise, which led some fans to criticize the way his big-screen debut went down. Among the most oft-repeated fan complaints: many felt like Kang was too easily defeated. But one fan theory could make sense of the somewhat anticlimactic climax — if true, it could also break the MCU.

Toward the end of "Quantumania," Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) brings down the empire Kang had built in the Quantum Realm. He then used Pym technology to destroy the power core for Kang's Time Chair, defeating that version of Kang in the process. Fans were perplexed that Ant-Man and Wasp (Evangeline Lilly) were able to defeat Kang, a villain who is supposed to be a threat to the entire multiverse. After all, it took nearly every character in the MCU to defeat Thanos (Josh Brolin) in "Avengers: Endgame." But one fan theory makes sense of Scott's win by suggesting that it was all another ploy by Kang.

TikTok user @bingerampage posted a video noting that, after Scott returns from defeating Kang in the Quantum Realm, there is an abundance of purple and green popping up in the frame from people's clothes to the balloons and cake at Cassie's (Kathryn Newton) birthday party. Those are Kang's colors, of course, so the video posits that Scott has been trapped in an alternate universe or a time loop without knowing it — likely under Kang's control.

Did Kang secretly win against Ant-Man?

While any fan theory should be taken with a grain of salt, it would make sense for Kang the Conqueror to have one last trick up his sleeve to prevent his defeat in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania." Kang is notoriously wily, and we've already seen in "Loki" that one of his more benevolent variants was able to gain control of the entire timeline, pruning off every other reality to maintain his control over the flow of time. Are we really to believe that a last-second feint by Scott was enough to defeat the variant in "Quantumania"?

Moreover, all that purple and green in the final scenes does seem like a hint toward something. It's possible that Kang has simply frightened Scott so much that the environment is reflecting the character's interiority. But longtime MCU fans will know that colors are usually employed very deliberately, with different colors corresponding to different characters and their particular abilities.

But if Kang did alter Scott's perception, how did he do it, to what end, and what would the implications be for the wider MCU?

The time loop theory

One possibility is that Kang has trapped the MCU — and Scott — in a time loop. This is hinted at when Scott is walking down the street during the voiceover narration sequence after returning from the Quantum Realm; at this point, a couple passes him on the sidewalk dressed in purple and green. Only a few seconds later, the same couple passes by him again.

To be frank, this is the weaker possibility, more likely an editing error than a secret Easter egg. Although the world does feel somehow altered upon Scott's return, there's nothing else in those final scenes to suggest a time loop.

On the other hand, consider how Kang arrived in the Quantum Realm, banished there after unleashing a brutal campaign of conquest on the universe. Consider the Quantum Realm itself, a universe existing in the submicroscopic, outside of time and space. We've already seen how it can enable time travel. Scott was trapped there during the Battle of Wakanda, emerging five years later to find half of the world's population turned to dust. But to Scott, it had been only five hours. The Avengers then used the Quantum Realm to build their time machine, which ultimately allowed them to defeat Thanos.

Where, exactly, does Kang go after his defeat in "Quantumania"? That variant could be dead, sure, but we didn't see a body. What we saw was that he got shrunken down along with the power core to his Time Chair. But wait a second, he's already in the Quantum Realm. Where does he go when shrunken even smaller?

It is possible that Kang himself is in a time loop and has relived this battle over and over, banished by Scott to arrive in the Quantum Realm once more, only to repeat that cycle.

The alternate universe theory

The more likely possibility is the one posited by that TikTok video. If indeed Scott's victory wasn't as clear cut as it seemed in "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania," it's possible Scott has been shunted to an alternate universe that is under Kang's control. That would explain why so many people and things are purple and green when he gets back to Earth. It would also be within the realm of Kang's known powers in the MCU, and in line with some of his strategies from the comics.

If this theory is true, it would mean Scott is missing from the main MCU, perhaps along with his family. That's one less Avenger for Kang to deal with when he arrives in the prime universe. It would also mean that, even if Scott goes to the other Avengers to tell them about the oncoming Kang-pocalypse, he wouldn't be telling the versions of them we know. In fact, the Avengers in the Kang-controlled universe might also be under his control. The comics version of Kang has employed such tricks in the past. Instead of battling the Avengers directly, he controls a timeline in order to control that timeline's Avengers or other powerful beings so that he never has to fight them in the first place. Kang even tried to kill the Avengers as infants.

Ultimately, though, that's why this entire fan theory probably won't pan out. Kang was never as strong as Thanos. Instead, he's smarter, using his incredible scientific mind to devise plans that play out across thousands of years. Confronted by Scott, he was forced to fall back on his brute strength, so it's no surprise he lost.